torre-castruccio-castracani credit: comune di Coreglia Antelminelli

At the beginning of the 14th century, Castruccio Castracani of Antelminelli became lord of Lucca and, to defend the Garfagnana, he restructured several fortifications, including the fortress of Ghivizzano.

The Tower or 'Watchtower' was 25 metres high and was originally crowned by eight battlements - the central one on each side has since disappeared. It has three floors with Romanesque arched windows: the ground floor was used as a warehouse and residence for the guards and did not communicate internally with the upper floors; on the first floor there was a living area with a fireplace; and the second floor was a sleeping area.

Castruccio Castracani restructured the whole fortress, including the tower and he built a barracks next to it, called the “House of the Captain of the People”, to house a garrison of about 40 soldiers. He surrounded the whole village with walls (along via Sossala, that is sub-sala, 'under the hall', we can still see the slits for the crossbowmen) and he also built a palace, whose walls over the centuries housed illustrious figures, such as Francesco Castracani, Paolo Giunigi and Francesco Sforza.

Today, after a few years of neglect, a part of the palace has been purchased and renovated, by the last descendant of the good-natured, ancient noble family of Lucca. Upon the death of Castruccio, in the castle was taken over by another Antelminelli, Francesco Castracani, who lived there for some years before moving to Coreglia; when his wife Giovanna in 1336 and his son Filippo in 1347 died, their bodies were buried in the fortress’ church.

At the beginning of the 15th century, the castle came under the rule of Paolo Giunigi and had some years of peace, but when the Giunigi fell, it suffered the last siege and plunder of its history, by mercenaries commanded by Niccolò Fortebracci, in the pay of Florence. A few years later another commander, Francesco Sforza, took possession of the castle, but this time the inhabitants of Ghivizzano at the arrival of his troops opened the doors without resisting.

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